Creme! Gotta Get the Money. Dollar Dollar Bills Y’all!

So I’m sitting here drinking my coffee with honey and without milk, because I haven’t gotten my groceries, but normally I drink it with milk and honey. The Bible says those two things are good, and they are, in coffee. But this cup of coffee is a heaven-send even without creme, because I was up late last night and I slept in. I noticed that I was running late to go pick up from Amazon to make deliveries, which I had actually forgotten about. So I canceled that, and promptly started brewing some coffee.

But I brought in over $10,000 in the last 48 hours. Cool, right? That is hands down by far the most money I’ve grossed ever. I’m on track to have another big day today, even possibly another 5K day. But you know what is funny? It doesn’t feel much different from all of the other days! Don’t get me wrong, it feels good, but I want to share some of my psychology when I’m hitting these new highs, which objectively are a big deal for me and my business, but subjectively it doesn’t feel life changing.

How would you feel if someone just gave you $10,000 as a gift? I remember when I was given one hundred $1 bills by a friend for my 13th birthday, and I felt like the flipping man! I was thumbing through those ones, and it felt like a major boss move in my early business career. I’ve always wanted my money to make more money though, and even as a kid I was encouraged to create value using my resources. It became the best game ever to think about how I could hustle new money by selling Colby’s Coolers which was my first real business. I walked up and down Ojai Avenue on Ojai Day or the Fourth of July selling coolers and fans to people dying of heatstroke at a healthy markup from fans that my friend Andrew and I had bought when my Mom took us to Walmart. Call us the original OGs of Walmart Arbitrage.

We bought those fans for around $100 and I had a stack of $300 or $400 from a couple hours work, and I think it was then that I understood that you never want to settle for the $100 that your friend gives you on your birthday and buy some dumb shit with that, but the greater gift is one that keeps giving.

Anyways, I kind of feel that way with $10K. I mean, yeah, great. I’m stoked I made some quick dough. And I need it. But I guess I’m just trying to take a really big MACRO perspective, that I need to continue the growth, or it is just vanity, seeing as it’s not like I can retire (I never want to retire, God that sounds horrible). I should mention, I’ve learned that it’s not what your bringing in, it’s the increase. You could be selling tons of shit at a loss. Thankfully, I’ve learned to focus on profit margins, and I’m making well over 25% net profit.

So what I’m saying (to myself) is, keep moving. Keep investing in what has allowed for growth. Keep re-investing, and finding new ways to be smarter and more efficient while “working hard”. Do both. And I guess it’s OK to treat yo-self a little bit, and buy a damn desk.

Update on Business- Growing Pains

Growth is painful, but so is the alternative. Last year I grossed $65,817.07 on Amazon, having started with their Fulfillment by Amazon program in April after running into some guy at Costco who is a Pastor at Southeast Christian Church looking at some Nike hoodies for resale.

I’ve grossed $63K in the first quarter of 2018, and I’ve been focusing much more on making my margins of 25% minimum (after fees, shipping and other expenses). I’ve sold some very high dollar products at minuscule margins that were simply not worth selling, so the gross numbers really don’t matter unless the margin is there. It feels pure vanity to brag about big gross numbers knowing that the profit margin is all that matters, which you don’t see in a screen-cap.

I think it’s funny when people assume that selling on Amazon, eBay or anywhere for that matter is passive. Granted, when Amazon fulfills my orders with the inventory that I store at their warehouses it saves me the work of shipping the product and dealing with returns, but that is why it is so scaleable. Most of my time is spent maintaining my listings because I do my own repricing to stay competitive, and sourcing more product. If you want your business to grow, you need to feed the beast. Amazon’s FBA program makes for a hungry beast that has an insatiable demand for product.

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So the key to Amazon FBA is sourcing profitable merchandise and having the capital to buy it. My first deal was buying 82 pairs of golf shoes that, come to find out, I couldn’t sell on Amazon. But I figured it out anyways.

I’ve sourced plenty of products. Some have done well, others have been losers. Double down on the winners and cut the losers seems like a principle that works well in most areas of life, especially ecommerce arbitrage. I’m learning to test products more, and then wait for the right time to really commit to buying larger amounts of product.

I save more money now when I find a real winner product by buying wholesale quantities and having them shipped LTL via tractor trailer. I’m excited because I’ve made my largest purchase last week, two pallets which will be headed to an Amazon warehouse tomorrow.

The bottom line is that if you want to make it happen, you’ve got to hustle. If I don’t hit the ground running tomorrow morning, then I’ll have no chance of grossing over 100K in Q2. If I don’t work smart, may be I will gross that much but not make much profit at all, and earn a pittance for all of my “hard work”. So my focus is on being active and dynamic, keeping my eyes open for opportunity to come my way, executing upon good information and being an overall practitioner. Stay hungry my friends.

AirBNB Preview: How I Got Started

Check It Out

Sometimes life just throws you a bone. One year ago my roommates kicked me out because one of their frat bros needed a place to stay and wanted to move in, which meant me moving out. So they asked me to leave, and that was fine with me, because the only reason that I was staying there was because rent was pretty cheap, allowing me to save money. Long story short, it wasn’t the best living situation. I had to get my deposit back in small claims court even though I had left the place in much better condition than before.

So after having received thirty day notice, I was rushing to find a place. I found a place in downtown Louisville that I thought to be too good to be true. The manager was working with me to get my paperwork approved for the two bedroom with the best view, and the clock was ticking. Another fairly nice place had fallen through because I’ve been totally self-employed, and proving income is a bit more difficult without W-2’s from an employer.

But then I landed this place, with hours, not days, to spare. I was looking at all options at that point, and those tidings came as cold waters to a thirsty soul. So I moved in with basically nothing but a bed, and it looked like a hostel for the first six months as I slowly got furniture and made it feel like home.

I got two bedrooms 1) because it seemed to be the best deal available (like my car*), and 2) because I wanted to AirBNB. But I wasn’t sure if it would be viable. So I just started doing it. I took a few pics of my basic set-up, and went through their little process, and… voilΓ₯, people were staying here and I started to get paid.

My prices really haven’t changed since then, even though I’ve added furniture, artwork, nice pillows, a hairdryer, 32″ HD TV, and an ironing board; all of which I had not before. My first few guests were happy with the location and cleanliness. I have new carpets, unlike my previous small-claims situation. πŸ˜‚ They were happy with the bed and cubbies and simple accommodations.

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From then on I’ve taken the money I’ve made with AirBNB and reinvested in in better furniture and make it much more comfortable. I’m thinking about putting a little fireplace in my apartment living room next. But besides the money, and I do appreciate the revenue stream, my guests themselves are the best. I’ve enjoyed each of their company, no matter how brief or extended, thoroughly.

I’ve had all kinds of unique people stay with me. As you’d expect, many business people and tourists. College kids and people interviewing. I live so close to the hospitals downtown that many of Louisville Hospital and Dental School interviewees, neurologists and the like have stayed with me. Fantastic people, all of them.

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I’ve played dominos with businessmen from Hawaii. They taught me how to play, and I won (twice). So many people have stayed with me that I’m making a map highlighting wherefrom.

I simply πŸ’š providing a place for people to rest and relax in Louisville. For business or recreation, I’m glad people from all over the country and world can benefit from what I have to offer. I still keep in touch with many of my previous guests. I wish I could keep in touch with all of them! My experience with AirBNB has far surpassed my expectations and I look forward to posting videos and writing more about it.

I Love Selling Stuff

I just do. Selling stuff is amazing. One minute ago I heard an old cash register sound. That’s my eBay app telling me I caught an offer, a bid, or a sale. This time it happened to be a sale of some Nike shoes that I will ship out tomorrow along with some Adidas and a Puma shirt. But that’s my favorite sound, the cash register noise, because it sounds like instant gratification money. I know that chemically I get a hit of dopamine when I hear that; it feels rewarding.

I enjoy buying large quantities of stuff. It’s a scientific fact that dopamine is the reward chemical of the brain. It provides for the feeling of pleasure, activating the reward pathways and pleasure centers within the brain.

Spending money and consuming gives instant gratification, and that’s why credit card companies have made it so easy to become indebted though consumerism. But it takes a bit of self-control and discipline to buy stuff for the sake of resale, and actually be profitable. For example, I’ve had a pair of New Balance shoes that I really like, in my size, that I’ve wanted to wear for some time now. But, I bought them with the intent to distribute. It’s been weeks now, I’ve lowered the price, and I can’t believe they haven’t sold yet.

Buying lots of stuff is fun though, especially when it’s sustainable and profitable. The people at Costco said they were going to make a bed for me there because they see me daily. I’m friends with some of them. One said, “We’re going to put a bed for you up front” to which I responded that I’ve already got a cot set up in the back of the store. They laughably say I keep the lights on. But I don’t even really like buying lots of stuff for myself. I’m quite cheap actually, and trying to get better about allowing myself to spend money. I do enjoy buying stuff for sale though, and it gives me a rush when I turn a profit.

Amazon has been fuel for my fire. I started out buying 82 pairs of shoes I wasn’t even sure if I could sell because I wasn’t yet approved for Adidas, or the shoe category. My friend helped me pick up and carry all these damn shoes and it ended up working out, I’ve sold almost all of them.

So it’s good fun, if you enjoy the thrill of the deal and bang for the buck. Also if you like the balancing act of the risk/reward tight rope. So far I’ve been able to navigate forward and it’s been a rewarding journey, and I’m just getting started.

Selling on Amazon, or Anywhere, is a Journey

It’s already been quite a journey for me, and I’ve only been all-in on selling for six months or so. I started out selling golf gloves and I dabbled in some internet routers and the like. It all started when I was revolving around the gravitational force of a clearance sale, as I noticed a price drop in some pretty nice Nike KO hoodies. I think the price had dropped from $40 ->30 -> 20. And this guy joined my solar system as he also became gravitationally pulled towards the deal. We got to chatting, as I had loaded up my cart with all the hoodies of a certain size, and one of us offered up that we were reselling. I was looking at prices on Ebay and Amazon, but hadn’t gotten started yet. But this guy was already rocking and rolling. He mentioned right out the gate that he made $30 or $40 a pop on these routers he was buying, and that if these hoodies sold well, he would come back and buy all of them. That made an impression on me. There’s serious dough in this business or arbitrage.

Verb “The purchase of securities on one market for immediate resale on another market in order to profit from a price discrepancy.”

Lot’s of people make hundreds of thousands of dollars reselling goods on marketplaces such as Amazon, Ebay, Easy, Craigslist, whatever. I plan on being one of those people.

As of now, I sell on all of those but Easy, which I’m looking into now that I’m thrifting that much more and with some success.

So selling with Amazon is crazy. It can be crazy good, all the while being crazy frustrating. But that’s what separates the wheat from the chaff. The hustlers from the complainers. The entrepreneurs from the busters.

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My first major move on Amazon was buying all these shoes. I found a great deal on these, and wanted all of them. I understand that it takes big moves to make big moves, but that can also backfire. I talked with Amazon seller support about selling this product, and their representative sounded inexperienced. He assured me that I simply needed to upgrade my account to Professional, which includes paying $40/month, and I would gain access to sell such products, get the coveted “buy box”, and avoid the $1 per item additional fee. If you sell more than 40 items each month, it makes simple mathematical sense to become a pro, and your sales will greatly increase (assuming competitive pricing) with the buy box (the one-click box costumers use to buy the product).

After much travail trying to come up with the proper documentation they required to prove my purchase, I finally got a call from someone in senior management within that department who helped me get everything straitened out. It was a Godsend. And really, it’s been all uphill (in a good way) from there.

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I hit a home run buying flashlights and electronics. And now, I’m moving into clothes. Brand approval is super-tricky, but you just have to get an invoice that has the information that they need. So now I’m on my way!

My First Amazon Toy Haul

I wasn’t even planning on going to Toys-R-Us today. Usually I have to wait for my allowance to come in. And I spent last weeks allowances on X-Boxs. And you wouldn’t believe it, all of my X-Boxs are in limbo because the God-damn trucking company that shipped them is incompetent.

Anyways, I woke up and saw that @ReezyResells was live on Instagram, and I had to tune in and glean some valuable knowledge from on high. And that I did. He mentioned that Toys-R-Us has a 10% off sale on Thursdays, and there’s a $25 coupon promo for $100 spent. How about that? Cash me outside?

So after delivering for Amazon, after I had completed my 3 hour “block” of work in an hour an a half, I headed over to Whole Foods for a cup of tea and next-door to Toys-R-Us to do some scanning. The first thing that I noticed was that there are a multitude of SKUs and it can be a little bit intimidating trying to pick out toys I thought I could sell.

I found a few dog “plush puppy” dolls on clearance that had a somewhat descent sales rating at about 150k. Mind you, it’s about to be Christmas time. I bought a few after I found something that had 50+% profit after fees, and felt like I had accomplished what I went there for. Business.

Then I realized I was late to my next block that I had scheduled for Amazon, thinking I could go home and drop off these goofy dogs because when you deliver for Amazon often times your using every inch of storage space and you cannot have personal belongings (or a lot of ridiculous toys).

I went back in to the toy store and asked if I could pick them up later. They kindly allowed me to leave my toys there, so I went and knocked out another 3 hour block in 2 for a total of $108 delivering for Amazon in 3.5 hours. Not too shabby. ***

I went back to Whole Foods for some healthy grub, feeling lightheaded because I had not eaten in a while, and made my way next-door again to Toys. Searching more, I wondered if they would give me another $25 gift card seeing as I had already used that coupon earlier. I found some sweet Frozen inline/ice skates that I’d try out if they fit me. Bought another $100 of those and a Choco-Taco and happily left having payed $82 for what I earnestly expect $200 in return, fulfilled by Amazon (which means they do most of the hard work like shipping and dealing with the customer/returns). All in all I felt like it was a pretty descent first toy haul.

Amazon Flex Pro Tips

Amazon started it’s own delivery service with independent contractors in Louisville Kentucky about two months ago. I started about two weeks ago, slightly salty that I wasn’t the first guinea pig on Noah’s Arc, or the Amazon delivery smirk.

I found out about it as a nice gentleman delivered a package I ordered a day early. I was stoked to get my Glock longsleeve and USB-C charging cord, but I was even more happy about the information that I gathered that wonderful Tuesday from World (that was his name).

Flex Early Delivery Surprise Reaction

I knew Amazon was rolling out such a program, and remember signing up for a email list some weeks before. But I didn’t know it was already in effect! So I immediately jumped on it.

Being totally self-employed already, hell yes I want to deliver packages and get paid for it! I did 6.5 hours of deliveries today in about 5.5 hours. No returns, no screw ups. Because that’s how I like to roll, efficiently.

So it took a few days to get my background check in and all that jazz, and I jumped all over this. First day I ran around slanging packs like nobody’s business.

First Amazon Flex

And I’ve been doing it ever since.

Today it was raining. It started raining on me a little, and I was glad to see that all the last 15 packages were going to one location, because I wasn’t about to deliver past the time I was being payed for in the rain or I would have returned those packages. I’ve had to return packages before because it took them too long to get me in and loading and I couldn’t make all my deliveries. That and I had to go over an hour out of the way to deliver one package.

I’m not complaining though. Complaining is for, well… complainers. I understand that this is a new program and becoming streamlined and I’m glad to participate in the early stages. The Amazon Flex delivery program is quite ingenious when you think about it. It’s like Uber for delivering packages. Quite literally, in that I’ve noticed many Uber / Lyft drivers (such as myself) are participating.

To break down Amazon Flex 101: you schedule yourself, and get paid in “Blocks”. These are time slots for you to load your personal vehicle with packages, and deliver them. Your provided an optimized route of delivering those packages, and I have found that the time that they are paying you for is generally (but not always) reasonable for the job assuming you can move efficiently and not get stuck looking for a particular parcel forever.

You load yourself with the large and small boxes and envelopes. My hatchback has been packed full, and I imagine some people’s smaller cars and sedans capacity just can’t handle it. Especially if they bring a friend or a pet (which they allow for standard package deliveries, not food) because I’ve loaded every inch of my car, including the passenger seats and legroom. I’ve gotten anywhere between 15 – 55 packages at a time with 3-4 hours to deliver them.

Loading/unloading (finding packages) can be difficult and complicated. After a few jobs I came to find out that there’s a system you’ll want to get acquainted with if you’re going to do this. Nobody told me how to organize a million boxes in your car, but I eventually asked and found out.

So bottom line: making some extra money by running around and delivering packages for Amazon through their Flex program works for me; I enjoy it. Perhaps you would like doing this work too? Let me know if you have any questions or comments πŸ˜‰

Living my Dream

I don’t know how I do it, but I do. It’s 2:17 AM, which is like my birthday, 2/17. I’ll be 27 this winter. Brace yourselves, winter is coming. It seems that life has gotten progressively better and better for me. I’ve been through a lot. Haven’t we all? I’ve been homeless, multiple times. Now I sit on a substantial pile of cash.

It’s been a long rough journey, but things have gotten much better. I remember moving to Cleveland in December 2012 with some savings and a light winter coat. I moved there to be with some friends from a Church I belonged to, and because I wanted a change. Well I got that alright. I had to find a job, which I did; bussing tables at the Olive Garden. I walked in the snow to and fro. I payed my friend from Church/landlord and got to keep the ones I made from tips.

Anyways, now I live in a nice downtown two bed that pays for itself. I’ve got a car that’s truly mine. I’ve got nice clothes and a nice phone and it feels good knowing that I have a rainy day fund in case something goes haywire. I drive for Uber and work when I want to. I can sleep in, clock out, and spend time where and when and with whom I please.

I’ve started selling on Amazon, and I’ve sold about $7000 worth of stuff in the last 30 days. Just when I think, Wow! I found the best deal, how am I going to find a better deal to sell more than this? Then I have found a better deal. By putting more work and focus into reselling on Amazon (mostly via their fulfillment service) I’ve been able to surprise myself with results.

So things are looking up! Sometimes I focus on what could go wrong, but I’m learning to focus on what I have control over, and that’s my perspective. Things always go wrong, but my overall experience has been that choosing to focus on improving what I have control of has worked out most of the time. There’s been plenty of shitty things that have gotten me down and made me doubt myself and my situation, but choosing to totally power through that has kept my alive and well.

So I just thought I would soak it in a little bit and bask in how far I’ve come. And I’m looking foreword to how much further I have to go.